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Gov. John Bel Edwards answers questions while hosting his end of the year press conference from the Governor’s Mansion Thursday Dec. 20, 2018, in Baton Rouge, La.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has named veteran communications specialist Christina Stephens to be his new deputy chief of staff, replacing Richard Carbo, who has been with the Edwards administration since the governor took office in January 2016.

Carbo, who is expected to join Edwards' re-election campaign team, announced the move in an email on Friday.

Stephens, who has been a contributor to The Advocate's features section, starts Monday in the new role running Edwards' communications team. She previously led communications for the Louisiana Recovery Authority and Office of Community Development during the state's recovery from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike.

The move is the first major shake-up in the governor's office as Edwards heads into the campaign. Edwards, a Democrat, is expected to face a tough battle, with the race listed among a top priority for Republicans nationally.

Two Republicans, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone, have announced plans to run against Edwards, and others are said to be considering entering the race.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.